The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is growing up and gaining global traction, said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
In an Interview on the sidelines of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), he said that when he attended the first BRF in 2017, the BRI “was still a child growing up and you don’t know what the end of it will be.”
“Now the BRI has become an adult, which means that it has become an important factor in the global economy. It has grown up,” he told reporters.
Illustrating his understanding of the BRI in a speech at the ongoing second BRF, the professor said that through the BRI and institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China can demonstrate to the world that “the philosophy and concept of the Belt and Road is more than an important initiative.”
The WEF founder, an advocate of “Globalisation 4.0,” said that if people want globalisation to continue as a positive force, a higher level of globalisation is needed to respond to the needs and realities of a transforming world.
The BRI, he added, can be “a building block and a role model of” an advanced pattern of global cooperation that should be more sustainable, more inclusive and more collaborative.
Over the years, Schwab has articulated on many occasions his views of the BRI. At the 2015 Summer Davos Forum in northeast China’s port city of Dalian, he said he was happy to see that China proposed the BRI.
There was a huge infrastructure demand in Asia and Europe, and it was a good thing for China to play a leading role in building infrastructure in the region, he noted.
Partly thanks to the fact that it met the development needs of many countries, the BRI continued with rapid progress, promoting common development in participating countries and bringing Asia and Europe ever closer.
On May 13, 2017, the 1,000th China-Europe freight train that year departed from China’s eastern city of Yiwu to Europe, fully loaded with commodities like smallware and clothes.
The next day, Schwab reaffirmed his full support for the BRI in an address at the first BRF. Not hiding his enthusiasm about the BRI, he said the initiative “takes a long-term and holistic view, and makes a unique contribution to international cooperation and economic development.”
He pointed out that connectivity, a primary focus of the BRI, “is the new meta-pattern of our era and a key driver of our future economy.”
Citing a Chinese saying that “if you want to get rich, build a road,” he said, “I would update this to say: ‘If you seek prosperity, build connectivity.'”
One month later, in an interview, ahead of the 2017 Summer Davos Forum, also held in Dalian, Schwab pointed to the BRI’s paradigm-shifting significance.
“The Belt and Road Initiative has great significance because it is a new approach to reach a new and open cooperation … and everybody can participate in a win-win situation as an equal partner,” he said.
Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the initiative six years ago, 126 countries and 29 international organisations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China. The initiative has become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation and the most welcomed global public good.
The BRI “is now growing up into a mature initiative that can have even more impact,” Schwab said.